Does North Dakota have a law that requires motorcycle riders to wear a helmet?

Question

Does North Dakota have a law that requires motorcycle riders to wear a helmet?

Answer

Yes, but it only applies to anyone who is under 18 years of age and operating a motorcycle or riding on one as a passenger. While a number of other states have passed so-called “universal” helmet laws, which cover anyone riding on a motorcycle, North Dakota’s law is much narrower.

North Dakota’s motorcycle helmet law, which you can see at North Dakota Century Code section 39-10.2-06, says:

“No person under the age of eighteen years may operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless a safety helmet meeting United States department of transportation standards is being worn on the head of the operator and rider, except when participating in a lawful parade. If the operator of a motorcycle is required to wear a safety helmet, any passenger must also wear a safety helmet regardless of the age of the passenger.”

The statute goes on to make it illegal to operate a motorcycle if a passenger is under 18 and is not wearing a helmet.

So, to summarize and (hopefully) clarify the rules in North Dakota, 1) a minor must wear a helmet while operating or riding on a motorcycle, 2) a passenger who is over 18 must wear a helmet if the person operating the motorcycle is under 18, and 3) a motorcycle operator can be cited if their passenger is violating the helmet law.

If you get into a motorcycle accident, even if the crash is the clear fault of the other driver, any personal injury lawsuit you file over the accident could be adversely affected. That's because North Dakota follows a “comparative fault” rule in personal injury cases where the injured person is deemed to share some amount of blame for their own injuries.

If this rule applies to your case -- the jury finds that your failure to wear a helmet amounted to negligence, in other words -- it will reduce any compensation you receive, by a percentage that is equal to your portion of fault. To learn more about how shared fault rules work, check out our companion article North Dakota Car Accident Laws.

by: David Goguen, J.D.

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